About broadband speed

When you sign up with us, move home/office, or change your package, we'll give you an estimate of the speed you should be getting. For example, we might say you could get '16 to 18Mbps'. This is an estimate of your 'line speed' or 'sync speed' and the actual speed you get should fall somewhere within this range. It's what your broadband and router is capable of if everything's working at its best.

Line speed can change over time and you may find that it can change each time you re-boot your router. The distance from your home to the exchange or cabinet will affect it, and temporary factors like severe weather can degrade the quality of the line.

Your line speed will always be higher than your actual ('throughput') broadband speed, because it's far less liable to signal interference than the wireless connection within your home. This is why if you run a speed test over Wi-Fi you'll find that the speed test results will always be less than your line speed.

You can find out exactly what your line speed is by logging into your router and looking for your 'sync rate'. How you do this will vary, depending on your router. Our help pages show you how to log into your router and check your connection status and sync rate.

You can check what your current speed estimates are by logging into our Member Centre.

You can't improve your speeds if they are within your estimates. However, if your speed is slower than it should be, watch our video to find out how you can help speed things up.

Line speed

Your line speed, also known as your sync speed, is the maximum speed at which your router can connect to the Internet. You can check your line speed by logging into your router and looking for your 'sync rate'. How to do this will vary depending on your router. Our help pages show you how to log into your router and check your connection status and sync rate.

Line speed can change over time and you may find that it can change each time you reboot your router. The distance from your home to the exchange or cabinet will affect it, and temporary factors like severe weather can degrade the quality of the line.

Your line speed will always be higher than your actual (throughput) broadband speed, because it's far less liable to signal interference than the wireless connection within your home.

Throughput speed

Whereas your line speed is a measure of how well your line can carry data to your router, the actual speed you see when you're online depends on many other factors. Most speed checkers will show the speed at which data is downloaded to your PC, laptop, tablet or phone – this is known as your throughput speed.

Throughput speed will always be slower than your line speed. It can be affected by different things, like the website you're on, your Wi-Fi connection, if you're online at a busy time, how many people are sharing your connection, and the quality of your telephone line.

A quick and easy way to check your throughput speed is to go to mybroadbandspeed.co.uk and follow the steps to run a few tests. If the results are slower than the estimate we gave you when you first signed up, have a look at our problem-solving tips.

You can also run a more detailed speed test at BT Wholesale.

Plusnet is a signatory to Ofcom's Voluntary Speed Code of Practice. Under the Code we aim to make sure you're aware of the estimated broadband speed you should receive and have the opportunity to end your contract should you not receive a Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed.

If your speed falls below the Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed value you should contact us and we will try to rectify the issue with the aim of getting your speed within your original speed estimate range.

Please note that the Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed applies to the 'line' or 'sync' speed of your line, not the 'throughput' speed.

If you signed up to us, changed products or moved home/offices after 31st May 2017 you can check your Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed by logging into Member Centre and checking your Broadband connection settings.

If you signed up before 31st May 2017 then you won't have a Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed, however we will always do our best to make sure your broadband speed falls within the estimated speed range for your line.

You can find out more on our Ofcom Speed Code of Practice page.

Standard broadband speed

You can get up to 17Mbps, but the actual speed you'll get is affected by:

  • how far you are from the telephone exchange - the further away you are, the slower it'll be
  • the quality of your phone line - if it's in poor condition, it won't be as fast
  • the type of broadband available where you live - in some places, BT's lines don't support speeds of up to 17Mbps, so you might only be able to get speeds of up to 7.5Mbps.

Fibre broadband speed

You can get up to 76Mb, but the actual speed you'll get is affected by:

  • how far you are from the green cabinet - the further away you are, the slower it'll be
  • the quality of your phone line - if it's in poor condition, it won't be as fast
  • the package you chose - Up to 38Mbps packages are available and, depending on your line speed estimate, you might be able to upgrade to Unlimited Fibre Extra which provides speeds of up to 76Mbps.

When we first set up your broadband, we won't know exactly how fast it'll be. It'll take a little while to get to a more settled speed. Here's what you can expect.

The first ten days

To find out your eventual speed, we'll run some tests from your telephone exchange. Because of that, the speed will go up and down and you might get disconnected a few times. But don't worry, that doesn't mean there's a problem; it just means we're trying to find the best balance between speed and reliability for you.

After ten days

Your broadband will settle into a speed close to the estimate we gave when you signed up. Small changes are normal and nothing to worry about. If there's a problem affecting your connection, the speed will slow down for a while to give you the most reliable service possible.

Broadband faults

Any fault will slow down your broadband, especially if it keeps disconnecting because of it. When that happens, it can take up to three days before it goes back to normal while we test and adjust your connection to find the best, most reliable speed.

Faults on the line

If there's a fault on the phone line, you may have trouble connecting to the Internet. Usually, when the phone line is fixed, your connection will go back to normal. But because that's happened, the speed will drop for the next few days while we sort out your connection again.

Using Wi-Fi

If you're online using Wi-Fi, several things can slow down your connection. These include things like how far away you are from your router, whether you have thick brick walls, or any interference from household appliances. If that's the case, try our tips for getting a better Wi-Fi signal.

Household appliances

Household appliances like cordless phones, baby monitors and microwaves can cause interference, especially to Wi-Fi, and slow your speed down.

Not using microfilters

A micro-filter is a device that has a plug and two sockets. If you don't have two sockets on your master socket you'll need a filter on every phone socket that you're using in your home. You plug it into your phone socket in the wall and then plug your broadband and phone cables into it. It stops the two signals interfering with each other.

Note: If you do have a modern 2-socket faceplate with a socket marked ‘Broadband’ or ‘ADSL’ you mustn’t use a separate microfilter – just plug your router directly into that already-filtered socket.

Microfilter showing two sockets

Bad weather

Heavy rain and thunderstorms can play havoc with your broadband. They can even damage your equipment permanently. If there's a really bad storm, it's a good idea to unplug your broadband router until it's over.

Your computer

If you've got an old computer (more than three years old), it might be slower because it's having trouble running the latest software and programs; so when you go online, it seems as if it's your broadband that's slow. Older laptops may also have slower Wi-Fi because of the network cards in them.

Viruses also slow everything down, so make sure your computers are protected against them. We recommend getting Plusnet Protect powered by McAfee.

Busy times

Even though our network won't slow down noticeably at peak times, some specific websites or downloads might.

There are some things you can do to help it be as fast as possible.

Leave your router switched on

It's best to leave it on, even at night. When you switch it off and on a lot, it makes it look like your line's unstable. When that happens, your telephone exchange will temporarily make your speed lower because it thinks your line can't cope with anything higher.

Check your Wi-Fi signal

Using Wi-Fi? If you've got a lot of devices connected at the same time, it'll slow down your connection. If you're using a desktop or laptop, try connecting it to your router with an Ethernet cable.

If you're getting a low signal a lot, try these tips to improve it.

Use microfilters

A microfilter is a device with two sockets that you plug into your phone socket in the wall. It'll stop your broadband and phone line from interfering with each other. If you don't use one, your broadband could be slower, not work at all, or you might hear a high-pitched noise when you make phone calls.

You need a filter on every phone socket that you're using in your home (unless your master socket has two sockets with one dedicated to broadband already). So, as well as the phone socket you use for your broadband, make sure you use a microfilter in any other phone sockets that are used for:

  • phones
  • set-top boxes
  • burglar alarms
  • fax machines
Microfilter showing two sockets

Try not to use phone extension cables

Extension cables can cause interference on the line, which slows down your broadband. It's better to use wifi if your router and computer are too far away from each other to connect with a cable. If you do need to use a phone extension cable, make sure it's new, high-quality and as short as possible.

Use the master socket

This is the best place to plug in your router. You'll usually find it where your phone line comes into your home.

Some homes don't have master sockets. In that case, use the one closest to where your phone line comes into your home. Have a look at our video if you'd like to find out more.

Switch off interleaving

Interleaving is what we do to improve your broadband signal and give you a more reliable connection. It can add a small delay to your connection, which can affect you if you do things like online gaming. Switching off interleaving can give you a less reliable service. But if you find your connection too slow and you'd like to switch it off, just give us a call or chat to us online and we'll sort that out for you. (This only works for standard broadband, so you won't be able to switch it off if you've got fibre broadband).

If we cannot provide a speed equal to or better than the Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed we promised you, you should contact our support team and we'll work with you to try and get the matter resolved. You can see Ofcom's speed code of practice for more information on what this means.

Should our faults team confirm there is nothing that can be done to resolve your fault, you have the right to leave without paying any Early Termination or Cease Fee charges. If you want to do this you should speak to our Customer Options Team.

We may provide offers but these do not impact your right to leave your contract with us if your line rate remains less than your Minimum Guaranteed Access Line Speed.